Click the heading above to view ethinic & religious events this month in Queens. Click the following links to go directly into one of these Queens Neighborhoods: Astoria, Flushing, Jackson Heights, Jamaica, Long Island City and Sunnyside.
July 4th At Four Freedoms Park Roosevelt Island
Macy’s Expands NYC Fireworks Celebration Along East River
It was a near perfect evening as I made my way toward the East River to watch the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks display. The first Macy’s fireworks display was in 1976 for the second bi-centennial celebration.
The photo at right shows the Queens audience along the East River and northern tip of Gantry Park in Long Island City on Saturday night July 4th, just after the fireworks ended.
Last year Mayor de Blasio urged Macy’s to return the fireworks display to the East River, as it had been moved to the Hudson in 2008 in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the river named after him. Macy’s continued to host it there until 2014.
There were six barges along the Hudson in 2008, which was reduced to three barges surrounding the Brooklyn Bridge in 2014. This year they added two barges which were positioned further north along the East River making it possible to enjoy the display from many parts of western Queens along the East River.
We had identified many of the best places to watch the July 4th fireworks in Queens in an earlier posting, but given the changes, it was difficult to determine how far north along the East River one could go and still enjoy a good fireworks show.
So with that in mind I made my way toward the Queensboro Bridge as I was pretty certain it would be closed, but it would have been the perfect place from which to photograph the fireworks. As expected there were two police officers standing at the Queens entrance to the bridge and they informed me that it would not be open until 10.30 pm, or about a half hour after the fireworks display.
The photo at right shows the July 4th fireworks display from Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island.
Click here for the rest of our story about the 4th of July fireworks display as seen from Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island.
Happy Birthday America
Musings About the 4th of July in Queens
It seems every six months or so, I get a chance to reflect on life. Since the July 4th holiday will soon be upon us, I’m going to expand that reflection to encompass the “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” put forth in the Declaration of Independence.
It seems the older folks who surrounded me in my youth were right. They told me that as you get older, the years will pass by more quickly. As a youngster I thought, “How can that be?” And while technically my youthful query was correct - perceptually it was not.
When I was ten years old, a year represented a tenth of my life. At 25 it represented only 4% of my life, and at 39 it’s a mere 2.5% [heh]. So the years do spin by more quickly, perhaps because they represent less and less a portion of the whole.
Julius Caesar, Mahatma Ghandi & American Independence
One might use this approach to looking back at things as a method to put in perspective so much else that has passed through time. Julius Caesar was said to have ruled the world, when in fact he primarily ruled the parts of Europe and the Middle East surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. And while he presided over a population that was about a fifth of the world’s population at the time, today the Roman Empire headcount is less than the population of Mexico.
Fast forward to the 20th century and compare the legend of Julius Caesar to the legacy of Mahatma Ghandi. Ghandi was instrumental in organizing and freeing ten times as many people from British Empire rule, as lived under the rule of Julius Caesar in the Roman Empire. And Ghandi helped free his Indian people without the use of a single arrow, sword or gun.
About two centuries prior to Ghandi’s effort - in 1776 - the thirteen American colonies declared themselves free of British Empire rule. These colonies today comprise the states along the eastern seaboard of the United States, excluding Florida, but including a few of the states' inland neighbors, such as Pennsylvania.
The population of the American colonies, at the time the colonists declared their independence, was about 2.5 million or only a few hundred thousand more people, than the number of people that currently reside in Queens NYC today.
God, Home & Country
When I was a boy, I was taught to hold God, Home and Country in the highest regard. What each of these concepts meant to me at that time has changed over the years, as I accumulated knowledge and experience about the world, which challenged many of the assumptions taught to me in my youth.
Some measure of what I learned growing up, was in a sense, what anthropologists call tribal knowledge. It was a body of information / understandings / perspectives about the world that the community shared that had been passed from generation to generation.
The 'tribal knowledge' teachings were assumed to be fact – by all of us in the ‘tribe’ – even though the teachings were essentially a narrative developed by those in charge, interpreted by the tribal scribe, and based upon the group's understanding of the world / universe at the time. The narrative included messages about what's important, how to properly conduct oneself and in some measure our communal identity.
The written 'tribal' narrative evolves in tandem with the 'tribal' culture and it is reinforced, and at times reinterpreted, by the communal elders and institutions through ritual, ceremonies and celebrations. Celebrating our American independence on July 4th is one such 'tribal' cultural ritual and every year it gives us pause to reflect upon where we have come from, discuss who we are and think about where we are going.
Our 'tribe' has grown to be a nation that spans from sea to shining sea, and is home to nearly 320 million people.
Click here to read the rest of our story about 4th of July in Queens.
4th of July Fireworks Queens
Astoria Park Fireworks Celebration Tonight
Tonight there's an independence fireworks celebration in Astoria Park beginning at 7.30 pm. It's a near perfect night for them as the highs today will be around 80 and the lows in the mid 60's, with scant chance of any rain.
The festivities will begin with a concert on the Great Lawn. The West Point Band of the U.S. Military Academy will be performing a number of classical American tunes along with 19th century classical music.
Around dusk which has generally been around 9.30 pm, but is sometimes sooner because of cloud cover, the fireworks by the Grucci Brothers begins.
The fireworks are some of the best 4th of July fireworks in the city and generally last about a half hour. And then ... it's over. The community event is organized by the Central Astoria Local Development Corporation [aka CALDC].
On July 4th Queens will have a second opportunity to watch the fireworks, sponsored by Macy's, which are on the East River. Enjoy.
Memorial Day With Chief Joseph
A Conversation in First Calvary Cemetery in Queens
On Memorial Day, I decided to make a trip to the First Calvary Cemetery to visit the graves of those who gave their lives defending this nation where the founding charters promise all [wo]men the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They fought for a noble cause I thought as I made my way, on a beautiful day, to the Calvary cemetery in Queens.
The First Calvary cemetery opened in the late 1840’s [circa 1847 – 1848] and was located only a short ferry ride away from Manhattan, up Newtown Creek. A couple more cemeteries were opened as the 19th century wore on, as most of Queens was still rural farmlands and woodlands. Many of the burials of the first century of operation were of Catholic Irish, Italian and Polish immigrants - including many children. And many soldiers had been buried here as well, most of whom were from the Civil War era.
As I was viewing a collection of the tombstones, reflecting on the lives sacrificed in the war over slavery, as well as the more recent wars that pulled nearly the entire planet into battle, a human figure in the distance caught my attention. A man appeared to be making his way toward me, in this lonely empty section of the cemetery. I pulled out of my musings, and began to focus on his emerging presence as he made his way up the hill.
He was an old man, of medium height, with long black and grey hair and a weathered, leathery skin. He was wearing an old work shirt and dark trousers and beaten leather shoes. No, they were mocassins.
His countenance resembled that of a legendary Indian: Chief Joseph. Chief Joseph was a tribal leader of the Nez Perce tribe in the Wallowa Valley in northeast Oregon. Chief Joseph was born in 1840, only years before this cemetery was founded. And he had visited New York City in 1897 to march alongside Buffalo Bill in a Wild West Parade.
He slowly raised his right arm, palm open and fingers standing straight up like a Boy Scout, and in a deep full voice he said,
I stood a bit at attention as I returned the greeting.
“Hi. How are you doing?”
He spoke again, this time in a language I did not understand.
“Mumba goycha tay.”
I looked at him and shook my head back and forth indicating that I did not understand what he’d just said.
The Memorial Day fiction in Calvary Cemetery in Queens to be continued at a later date.
Liberian President Visits York College
Women's Month: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Is First Female President Of African Nation & 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
March 16, 2015 / Jamaica NY / Ethnic Culture / Queens Buzz. I had an opportunity to attend a public interview of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female president of an African nation. President Johnson Sirleaf won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize with two other African women for their non-violent work to provide safety to women on the African continent, and for their efforts to include women as full participants in the peace building process.
Author. President Johnson Sirleaf recently published a book entitled, This Child Will Be Great, which carries the message that you can grow up to be whatever you want to be, if you're willing to work at it. And I suppose Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's life serves as a case in point.
Parentage & Education. President Sirleaf grew up the daughter of mixed race, as her father was from a Pakistani / Indian tribe that settled in western Africa, and her mother was a mix of German and African blood. She was born in 1938 in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, and married at the age of 17 in 1956. She attended college and in 1961, several years after her marriage, she moved to the U.S. with her husband where she attended the Madison Business College in Madison, Wisconsin. She also studied economics in Boulder, Colorado and earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the JFK School of Government at Harvard in 1971.
Click here to read the rest of our story about a Nobel Prize Winner's visit to Queens.
Through Rain, Snow, Sleet Or Hail ...
The St Pat's For All Parade Is Like The Mail
March Comes In Like A Lion In Sunnyside Queens
March 2, 2015 / Sunnyside / Ethnic Culture In Queens / Queens Buzz. A bit of snow was falling, and temperatures were just below freezing, as I made my way down to the 16th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Sunnyside. To add to the challenges on this day, the #7 subway line was out between Times Square in Manhattan and 74th Street / Broadway in Jackson Heights.
It was no surprise that the streets were fairly empty, and there was only a small gathering down near the podium at 46th Street on Skillman Avenue. The event was to begin at 1 pm, but that didn't happen today. Folks were milling about, so I started mingling.
The first Miss Queens  of the Miss America pageant had arrived and posed wearing her tiara along the snowy walks along Sunnyside Gardens. Her name is Catherine Manett who is originally from Patchogue on Long Island and more recently of Whitestone in Queens. She will be competing in the Miss America New York pageant on Staten Island on June 6th - and if successful there - will go on to the Miss America finals in Atlantic City in September.
Given the cold temperatures and snow, it didn't seem to be a great day for a run. But that didn't stop several members of the intrepid WoodsideSunnysideRunners.com club. I found Paz Tanjuaquio, one of the Founders of Topaz Arts in Woodside, dressed in her running suit conversing with Woodside Sunnyside Runners club Founder Jay Radner and a third runner. They were resting after a short run up and down an empty Skillman Avenue and decided to enjoy the fine weather by staying to hear the speeches and view the parade. Jay told me that there are about 1,000 runners on his email list and that they do a run nearly every day. You can learn more about the club on their website www.woodsidesunnysiderunners.com.
Slan. Click here for Irish pubs / bars in Manhattan on St. Patricks Day 2015.
Triple Header Holiday Week
Hanukkah Ends Tuesday, Christmas is Thursday & Kwanzaa Begins Friday
December 22, 2014 / Queens Culture / Queens Buzz. The holiday season began nearly a week ago with Hanukkah, continues with the celebration of Christmas this Thursday and is followed by Kwanzaa on Friday which ends on New Years Day.
Each culture has its own traditions, which share some similarities and differ too. But the general thrust of each is toward envisioning a more humane world.
The following are links to stories posted in the past on holiday cultural celebrations, including some look into the history or meaning of them. Click here to read a report we did on Kwanzaa in Queens, click here to read a report we did on Hanukkah in Queens and click here to read a report about one of the many Christmas tree lightings in Queens.
Holidays In Queens
Tree Lighting In Astoria Park Thursday, Kwanzaa In Corona Saturday, Winter Celebration Including Hanukkah Sunday In Flushing
December 8, 2014 / Queens Buzz. Alas, I missed a whole slew of holiday lightings last week - three of which were in Sunnyside, one in Woodside, two in Long Island City and one of which was in Corona at the Louis Armstrong House.
But there are more celebrations to come.
There's a tree lighting in Astoria Park at 19th Street & 23rd Avenue beginning at 6.30 pm on Thursday. And there's a Kwanzaa celebration at the Langston Hughes Library & Cultural Center in Corona on Saturday from 11 am to past 5 pm. The Kwanzaa celebration includes a libation and a number of musical performances and a workshop. And there's a Winter Celebration [Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa] at Flushing Town Hall on Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm wherein stories of each culture will be told. The program also includes art workshops to capture some of the storytelling of menorahs and dreidels as well as a crafts workshops designed to create wreaths to be donated to seniors.
The Jackson Heights Beautification Group also generally hosts a multi-cultural lighting in front of the Post Office on 37th Avenue and we are awaiting confirmation of the time and date assuming there is one and that we haven't already missed it.
The photo to your right shows the Woodside On The Move Christmas tree in Sohncke Park at 58th Street & Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside.
Thanksgiving Celebrations in Astoria & Forest Hills
Tuesday evening from 5.30 - 8. pm the Queens Community House will be hosting a Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner at 108-25 62nd Drive in Forest Hills.
Thursday beginning around 12 noon there's a free Thanksgiving Community Lunch hosted by the Greek American Homeowners Association at 23-49 31st Street in Astoria. The public is welcome and no rsvp necessary it runs as long as the food lasts.
Giving Thanks In Queens
Sunnyside Reformed Church Hosts Communal Feast
November 24, 2014 / Sunnyside Neighborhood / Queens Culture / Queens Buzz. I attended the fourth annual Thanksgiving Dinner hosted by the Sunnyside Reformed Church. The purpose of the feast is to commemorate the Thanksgiving holiday and to celebrate community.
Reverend Neil Margetson and his wife, Gretchen, hosted the event along with the help of the Elder Vice President Marie Joyce and many others in the community [see slide 8 of the photo slide show]. The culinary crew, creators of the repast, included Chris and Karen Demarecaux who were ably helped by David Feffer [see slide 6 of the photo slide show]. There were a host of other helpers who set up the chairs and tables and attended the serving line. Reverend Margetson remarked that "Folks just chipped in and it all came together".
In the neighborhood of one hundred and fifty people came to celebrate the holiday, enjoy a good meal, and to socialize with others in the community. It was a record turnout for the event. The reverend started the feast with a prayer and the dinner was followed with spirited conversation. In the past the dinner has been followed by story telling and / or musical performance.
The next event is the ecumenical tree lighting on Thursday December 4th at 7 pm starting outside the church with a procession down to Queen of Angels Catholic Church followed by an appearance by Santa with hot chocolate and cookies. It's ecumenical because five neighborhood churches will be participating including All Saints Episcopal, the Grace Fellowship Presbyterian and the Christ Lutheran Church in Woodside. Reverend Margetson said that the Sunnyside Reformed Church is working to build a spiritual community through the hosting of cultural events.
Click here to view a slide show of the Thanksgiving Dinner photos at the Sunnyside Reformed Church. And click here to read a story about the Sunnyside Reformed Church.
Jackson Heights Halloween Parade Photos
Parade More Like A Community Costume Party
November 3, 2014 / Jackson Heights Neighborhood / Queens Parades / Queens Buzz. I attended the annual Jackson Heights Beautification Group's Kids Halloween Parade on Friday evening. I arrived shortly after it began and started photographing all of the parents and children in costume.
Unlike other parades, given this one was dedicated to the kids, there didn't seem to be the boundaries between parade marchers and the parade audience that one normally encounters. Those in the parade interacted with the audience, many of whom were family, friends and neighbors. And the parade more meandered than marched, with the kids in charge. It kind of felt like one big mega block party / Halloween costume ball.
We took many photos like the one you see to your right. It seems the Girl Scouts dress a bit differently than they did when I was that age. We'll post a photo slide show later today. And I have to give kudos to many of the parents, who seemed to embrace the holiday as much - or more than - their children.
The Legend Of Hell Gate Horror
Hell Gate Horror Myth May Have Real Origins
October 19, 2014 / Astoria Neighborhood / Queens Culture / Queens Buzz. It’s not often one stumbles upon a legend and then finds himself riddled in its mysteries. But so it was last Saturday evening, while biking through Astoria Park to photograph the Hell Gate Horror Halloween Walk that I encountered an older gentleman sitting on one of the park benches who summoned me for help. It was shortly after dusk as the sun had set behind the skyline and the park was dimly lit by the ambient light of the city.
The man was sitting on the park bench [in the photo to your right] overlooking the Hell Gate Bridge and dressed in clothing of years gone by. I sized him up as I approached and determined that he was probably ok. Although he had not shaved in days and his hair was a bit disheveled.
“Hi. What’s up?” I asked.
“I need help.” He replied. I looked at him inquisitively as he didn’t appear to be in any immediate predicament, near as I could tell.
“How can I help you?” I asked.
“I see by your bag that you work for a newspaper. Are you a reporter?” I nodded affirmatively while explaining to him that I worked for a web magazine. He didn't seem interested in my explanation as he pulled some photos from his coat and handed them to me.
The man looked at me intently, as if to measure my interest. “I’m trying to get back in.” He said. I looked at him stupefied. “What?” He repeated, “I’m trying to get back in.”
“I heard you the first time, but I don’t understand what you mean.” I replied.
He went onto explain. “The Hell Gate Bridge began construction over one hundred years ago. The construction went on between 1912 and 1916. I was one of the construction workers.
“Anyhow, around Halloween time in 1914, a circus which came to Astoria Park. After a few drinks, I took one of my co-workers up on a dare to walk through the cemetery which was nearby. I don’t know what happened, but once inside the cemetery I saw things I never imagined were real. Ghosts, goblins, magicians, fortune tellers and hobbits … I took photos of them with my camera. That’s what you see here.”
Click here to read the rest of the story about the Legend Of Hell Gate Horror.
Bolivian Parade In Jackson Heights NYC
Parade Showcases Bolivian Culture In Queens
October 20, 2014 / Jackson Heights Neighborhood / Ethnic Culture In Queens / Queens Buzz. Jackson Heights is the home away from home for many cultures around the world. On numerous occasions throughout the year the community is provided an opportunity to celebrate and enjoy the pageantry showcasing many different cultures from Latin America, Asia and a bit of modern day Americana.
On Sunday, the Bolivians showcased their culture by providing a panoply of dancers and musicians in costumes of eras gone by. It was a cool day and the performers used that to their advantage by performing a number of synchronized dance steps to the great amusement of the parade audience standing on the sidewalks along 37th Avenue.
We'll have a bit more to add at a later date including a photo slide show.
Durga Puja Ends
Hindu Celebration Of The Goddess Mother Of Life
October 13, 2014 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Ethnic Culture / Queens Buzz. Sunday evening I was walking home along Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside. Near 42nd Street one of the buildings was all lit up and a small group of people were standing outside conversing. I could tell by some of the signage that this was the Hindu celebration of Durga Puja so I asked if I might take a few photos and talk to some of the people. And the folks from the Bangladesh Puja Samiti of New York cordially invited me in.
There were two floors of activity. On the top floor there was a musical performance in process. It was a Bangladeshi group playing traditional Hindu music with a female vocalist singing the beautiful operatic songs similar to those heard in the Hindu movies. The room was filled to capacity, with entire families sitting together enjoying the music. There were hundreds or more in attendance.
I made my way back to the front of the building and Das Gupta, President of the Bangladesh Puja Samiti of New York, invited me to visit the shrine downstairs and to break bread with them. We headed downstairs ... more to come about Durga Puja in Sunnyside - including photo slide show - at a later date.
SS Oktoberfest Draws Large Crowd
Through Rain & Cold Oktoberfest Goes On
October 13, 2014 / Sunnyside Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. On Saturday afternoon I headed into Sunnyside Gardens Park to attend their annual Oktoberfest. As the neighborhood continues to attract younger families the event has grown in size and attendant events and facilities. This year seemed to be a continuation of that trend, as new rides were added alongside some of the old ones.
It was a cold damp overcast day. The temperatures were hovering around 60 accompanied by an intermittent drizzly rain. But the weather didn't seem much to dampen the Oktoberfest attendance nor the spirits of those who attended.
In addition to the rides, which this year included a kiddy ferris wheel, there was a beer bar, a number of arts and crafts vendors and a number of performers who entertained many of the kids and their parents.
A photo slide show will be posted at a later date.
Not Laboring On Labor Day
September 1, 2014 / Sunnyside Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. Labor Day was signed into law by Grover Cleveland in 1887. The day was designed to commemorate the achievements of the American working class.
At the time Labor Day was made a holiday, the union labor movement was growing in strength due to the abuses of laborers by their employers. At the time the nation was emerging as an economic powerhouse and mining, agriculture and manufacturing were the primary sources of jobs. Long hours, child labor and poor working conditions fed the desire of workers to unite to bargain collectively with their employers.
Things have changed quite a bit since then, and agriculture which accounted for half the jobs and mining and manufacturing which accounted for another third of them, now collectively account for about 15 - 20% of the entire economy. America has become a nation of white collar and service workers.
Unions lost a lot of popularity in the latter part of the last century - not just because of the changing nature of employment - but also because union pay was invariably much higher than that of non-union workers, and many of the union jobs were paid for directly or indirectly by the government [eg. government employees, teachers, air traffic controllers, highway & other public construction, law enforcement, military gear manufacturers]. Perhaps more significant was that as international trade tariffs were decreased or abolished; American companies began exporting American jobs to other nations where worker compensation was far lower, and workers' rights and collective bargaining were not well established.
In the photo above a number of folks enjoy time off at a recently refurbished plaza underneath the subway line along Queens Blvd and 46th Street in Sunnyside.
Ecuador Independence Parade Photos
August 2014 / Jackson Heights / Queens Parades / Queens Buzz. I attended the Ecuador Independence Parade a couple of Sundays ago in Jackson Heights & Corona. Ecuador achieved its independence from Spain in 1822 during a time when many of its Latin American neighbors were also fighting for, and winning their independence. These wars for independence took place in the second and early part of the third decades of the 1800's, which was not long after the United States won its war for independence against Great Britain in the late 1700's.
Simon Bolivar was instrumential in leading these rebellions against those in power [Spanish royalty]. Bolivar enlisted English support in these wars for independence from Spain, just as Ben Franklin had enlisted French support in the American War for Independence. In both cases they got it, as France wanted to undermine the English in the late 1700's just as the English wanted to undermine the Spanish in the early 1800's.
In Ecuador the Spanish and the native South American Indians mixed racially, so that today about two thirds of the 12.5 - 14.5 million population is of mixed Spanish and Indian blood. The remainder of the population is a mix of Indian, AfroEcuadorian and Caucasian [primarily Spanish]. Spanish is the official language, but it's estimated that about 15% of the population can speak or understand Quichua, which is the native Indian language of the South American Incas. Ecuador uses American currency as its official currency.
We'll post a slide show at a later date, including the Mayor's late arrival, which corresponded to ours.
July 4th Fireworks Queens & Weekend
4th of July Fireworks Return To East River
July 4th, 2014 / Things To Do Queens / Queens Buzz.
Weather. Not ideal for fireworks. Friday it will be in the high 70's with about 65% humidity all day. Rain will hit between 3 & 4 pm and thereafter - until about 10 pm - there's a 50% chance of it. So for the fireworks display it's a 50 / 50% chance you may get wet.
For the rest of the weekend, the highs will climb to the mid 80's and it will be sunny and dry Saturday, with humidity climbing back to 50 - 65% Sunday.
Macy's 4th of July fireworks in Manhattan NYC. The Macy's 4th of July fireworks will likely begin around 9.30 pm which is when it gets dark enough to support a good show. But that said, you should probably get to where you're going to watch them no later than 9 pm, because the cloudy skies may allow them to get off to an early start.
Best Locations to view Macy's 4th of July fireworks in Queens NYC. There will be three barges in the East River from where the fireworks will be launched - two just south of the Brooklyn Bridge and one just north of it. The best viewing locations would be in and around the bridge including the South Street Seaport. But spots along the East River should allow for a pretty fair view, including Gantry State Park and Hunters Point South.
We'll post weekend events later today and Saturday.
De Blasio Presence @ St Pat’s Day Parade ...
Creates Media Frenzy As New Mayor Makes A Statement About Inclusion
March 2, 2014 / Ethnic Culture in Queens / Sunnyside & Woodside / Queens Buzz. I attended the St Pat’s For All Parade in Queens on Sunday afternoon. It was an overcast day, with temperatures in the 30’s. Speeches and an Irish cultural celebration began at 1 pm, followed by the parade which was to begin at 2 pm, but didn't get going until about 2.45 pm.
This year I skipped most of the pre-parade show and, like many in the crowd, awaited the presence of Mayor Bill de Blasio. De Blasio is the first Mayor of NYC to politely decline to march in the Manhattan St Patrick's Day Parade because it bans gays from marching in it.
The Mayor's presence included an increase in the presence of NYC elected officials who attended the parade. This included the new Queens Borough President, Melinda Katz, which is worth noting since it's the first time a Queens Borough President has attended this parade since I began covering it in 2008.
Click here to read our report about and view photos of the St Pat’s Parade in Queens, including a photo slide show.
Best Wishes For New Year 2014
The Party's Over .. Turn Out The Lights
January 1, 2014 / Queens Buzz. We went to Times Square last night to ring in the New Year. It was cold, but tolerable, and there were - as usual - large crowds of folks in their 20's, 30's and 40's and to a lesser extent, on up.
The police had cordoned off the area using wooden horses, and steel gates. All of the streets leading into Times Square were blocked by large contingents of the police force.
The crowds were massive and really only a few people seemed ready to cause trouble or had too much to drink, but they were severely outnumbered by those ready to bring them back into line. Generally things were well under control, but as gates opened and closed, one could see how things could quickly go awry ... but they didn't.
It was a calm crisp night and the NYC skyline was looking good after the ball dropped and we headed home. The party was over and it was time to turn out the lights. Best wishes for the new year.
Twas The Night Before Christmas and All Through the House ...
not a creature was stirring .. not even a mouse ..
Not so says the man with the white beard and red suit. Flying through the skies, delivering fresh fruit.
Dancer and Prancer and Rudolph to be sure, treading the superhighways in the skies, presently clear.
At home the family and friends congregate. Most arrive early, but one always arrives late.
There are greetings and laughter and tales from afar. Some from the holy churches and others from the bar.
Most leave their worries behind at the door. For now is the time to say, "pumpkin pie? I'll have more".
We live in a place where we're generally blessed. It's worth remembering that and reminding the rest.
It's easy to complain, but now's not the time. Retell an old joke, have another glass of wine.
Regale your companions with nonsensical gold, that all will remember years after it's been told.
For the time we spend with each other now, will not pass again, no matter how ...
.. hard we try, sometimes, to relive the past. But time flies away like the minutes that just passed ..
.. and these rhymes can't last .. have a Merry Christmas Queens.
Thanksgiving Filipino-American Style
December 1, 2013 / Sunnyside Neighborhood & Woodside Neighborhood / Ethnic Culture In Queens / Queens Buzz. On Saturday I attended a fundraiser co-hosted by Bliss On Bliss Studio of Sunnyside with Topaz Arts in Woodside. The proceeds of the benefit were to go to the Filipino survivors of the Typhoon Halyon / Yolanda. The event was scheduled for the Thanksgiving Weekend.
A donation of $25 was made at the door and there was a table of light fare and beverages provided along the far wall. Inside Topaz Arts were wooden sculptures on display from Mamerto Tindogan's solo exhibit entitled Unearthing The Magic, which ended this weekend. Mamerto is a native carver from the island of Luzon in the Philippines and I would soon see him perform an ancient chanting ritual.
Click here a bit later in the week to view the rest of our report, including a photo slide show, of the collaboration by Bliss on Bliss & Topaz Arts to raise funds for the survivors of the Typhoon Halyon / Yolanda.
Halloween Parties - Queens
October 25, 2013 / Queens Buzz. There are a lot of parties planned for the Halloween Weekend of 2013. Costume Parties and Live Music for adults, and parades and parties for the kids. Today we'll focus on the adult parties, giving you a sampling of possible party venues around the borough of Queens on Halloween Weekend 2013, which is less than two weeks away.
In the photo to your left is a scene from the Halloween party at Cavo Astoria last year. Click here to read about Halloween Parties In Queens 2013.
Also click into the Queens Events link above for a look at our monthly events calendar for Queens.
St Pat’s Day Parade In Queens
St Pat’s For All Parade & Political Pageantry
March 5, 2013 / Ethnic Culture in Queens / Sunnyside & Woodside / Queens Buzz. I attended the St Pat’s For All Parade in Queens on Sunday afternoon. It was a crisp Spring day, with temperatures in the 40’s, and even warmer in the ample sunshine. They had scheduled an Irish cultural celebration to begin at 12.30 pm, followed by the parade which was to begin at 2 pm.
The celebration included a number of Irish dances performed by Niall O’Leary’s School of Irish Dance and Caroline Duggan and the Keltic Dreams of PS 59 in the Bronx [see photo]. There were also musical performances by several groups, including the Brian Fleming Band which has been a regular performer at the St Pat’s For All Parade for years.
And of course there were speeches ... click here to read the rest of our report about, and view our photos of the St Pat’s Parade in Queens, including a photo slide show.
Chinese New Year Parade Queens
The Year of the Snake is Good for Business
Updated March 10, 2013 / February 4, 2013 / Flushing / Chinese Culture in Queens / Queens Buzz. I have become a big fan of the Chinese New Year Parade in Flushing. Some reporters have estimated that about 4,000 people march in the parade, but we’re beginning to believe that this number is inflated. And we estimate that north of 10,000 people come to watch it. In the years I’ve been covering the parade, it seems that each year the crowd gets larger. But thankfully, there’s still plenty of space to find a good viewing location, because the parade route spans between one and two miles.
This year I gained a little deeper understanding of the Chinese New Year traditions, as fell into a conversation about them with a former resident of Shanghai, who recently immigrated here. She told me about some of the traditions that accompany the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Click here to read the rest of our report about and photos of the Chinese New Year Parade Queens in Flushing, including a photo slide show.
Chinese New Year Parade Flushing NYC
Queens Chinese New Year Parade & Flushing Asian Community
February 14, 2013 / Flushing / Queens History / Queens Buzz. This report provides a brief overview of the Chinese New Year Parade in Flushing & Queens. The year is 4710 and it is the year of the Snake.
The Chinese New Year Parade times, route and viewing locations are included in this report for your convenience, along with photos from prior years as well as links to reports from prior years. You'll also find related information such as info about Flushing shopping and Queens restaurants.
Click here for our report about the 2013 Chinese New Year Parade in Flushing Queens. Story & photos by Michael Wood.
Hanukkah Celebration in LIC
Menorah Lighting Symbolizes Continued Good Acts
December 10, 2012 / Long Island City LIC / Queens Buzz. On Sunday I attended the Chabad LIC Menorah Lighting in Gantry Park. The event was preceded by donut making and latkes; and a trumpeter, Anna Garcia, played a few pieces which were celebrated by the gathering.
Rabbi Zev Wineberg had organized the event, which he told me had started as a celebration of an historic victory thousands of years ago. Every Friday Orthodox Jews light candles in the privacy of their homes, but on Hanukkah, they light them in a public space.
The first night proclaims the miracle of the historic event, when after the victory, an small amount of oil lasted eight days. It also symbolizes one act of doing good, when the light [good] sends the darkness [bad] away. The second night symbolizes a second act of goodness, when light returns and sends darkness away, because the darkness always returns. The multiple acts of goodness, no matter how small, help banish evil.
And so the lighting of the Menorah will continue through next Saturday evening. The next public lighting by Chabad LIC will take place tonight along Vernon Blvd. Happy Hanukkah.
St Pats Parade Mixes Pageantry & Politics
March 5, 2012 / Sunnyside & Woodside / Ethnic & Religious Culture / Queens Buzz. It was a beautiful March day, with temperatures in the 40's, as I made my way down to hear the speeches and watch the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Sunnyside and Woodside.
Last year they moved the parade gathering area up a few blocks from 43rd Street to 47th Street. The new location seems to provide a more communal gathering spot than in the middle of one of Sunnyside's busy intersections.
I was amazed at the turn out of potential NYC mayoral candidates. NYC Public Advocate Bill Di Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, NYC Comptroller John Liu were all in attendance. Notably absent was St Pat's For All Parade regular, City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn. After the parade we contacted her office to inquire why she was absent and were informed that she wasn't feeling well.
Click here to read more about our report on the St Pat's For All Parade in Sunnyside & Woodside Queens. The report includes a slide show with photos of the speakers, warm up performances and parade.
Astoria Park Fireworks - June 2012
Columbus Day Parade Astoria - FIAO - October 2011
St Markella Festival Astoria - September 2011
Greek Independence Parade NYC - April 2013
St Markella Holy Friday Astoria - April 2013
Greek Orthodox Easter Astoria - April 2011
Astoria's Greek Radio Station - Jan 2011
4th Of July Fireworks In Queens 2011
June 27, 2011 / Queens Fireworks / Queens Buzz. Probably the best fireworks in Queens is offered every year along the East River in Astoria Park. This year the 2011 Fourth of July Fireworks Display in Queens is being held on Thursday evening June 30th, beginning with a concert [as usual] which starts around 7 - 7.30 pm. The 2011 fireworks display in Queens is being performed by the world famous Grucci Brothers, along the East River waterfront around dusk, which they generally begin between 9 and 9.30 pm.
Macy's Fireworks On July 4th 2011 Along Hudson River
Queens used to be treated to two fireworks displays. The second fireworks display was held on the 4th of July itself, and also by the Grucci Brothers, compliments of Macy's. These fireworks were also shown along the East River, although far further south, with LIC being the northern most point from which to view them.
Astoria Park Fireworks Display 2011 On June 30th
But in recent years [since 2009], Macy's has elected to show the fireworks along the Hudson River, leaving those of us who live in Queens and Brooklyn to fend for ourselves. Thankfully, the Central Astoria Local Development Corporation sponsors great fireworks in Astoria Park, providing an equally good show, while providing the Queens audience with a far more comfortable and accessible locale. Astoria Park is an easy subway ride along the #7 and N / W with a moderate walk.
NYC 4th Of July 2011 Weather Forecast Good
Currently the forecast for Thursday is dry with temperatures in the 80's. Click here to view prior reports on July 4th Fireworks in Queens in prior years. And click here for a map showing the location of Astoria Park 4th of July Fireworks 2011 in Queens & NYC.
Ethnic & Religious Culture in Astoria
Chinese New Year 2012 in Flushing
Flushing Town Hall - Building Cultural Bridges
January 25, 2012 / Flushing / Ethnic & Religious Culture / Queens Buzz. I attended the opening ceremony at the Flushing Town Hall celebrating the Chinese new year. Flushing Town Hall is a neighborhood and Queens borough cultural center, which has easily become one of the leading places in Queens and NYC, where one can familiarize themselves with authentic Asian cultures.
Flushing Town Hall presents many exhibits and programs, which nurture an environment of cross cultural understanding. They are also an important location for innovative theater performances, jazz, and world music, of which you can read more about by using the search function on this site.
One of the reasons for Flushing Town Hall's emergence as an Asian cultural center is that Flushing is the home to the largest Chinese community in New York, equaling – if not surpassing - Chinatown in Manhattan. And New York City is home to the largest Chinese community outside of China.
This year is 2012 AD in the western world, but to the Chinese this is the lunar year 4709 and the year of the lucky dragon. Steve Chen of Crystal Window & Door Systems in Flushing [current exhibit sponsors], speaks about the Antique Chinese Windows and Doors collection currently on exhibit at Flushing Town Hall.
Click here to read more about the upcoming Chinese New Year Parade 2012 in Flushing Queens and Chinese Culture.
Queens Parades - Chinese New Year Parade - Year of the Horse - February 2014
Chinese New Year Parade Flushing - February 2013 / 2014
Queens Parades - Moon Parade & Asian Harvest Festival - Flushing 2013
Hong Kong Dragon Boat Race Festival
August 14, 2011 / Flushing Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. The 21st Annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival was held in Queens on Meadow Lake which is located in the southern end of Flushing Corona Meadows Park. The races were held on both Saturday and Sunday from 10 am - 4 pm. There were over 2,000 participants in the races which included serious racers and racers just out to have a fun time.
On Sunday morning torrential rains interrupted the festival and a number of the cultural activities were cancelled, but the racing continued Sunday afternoon after the skies had cleared ... somewhat. We'll have more on this race next year, including a slide show.
Chinese New Year Parade 2011 Photos
Parade Moved Quickly In Flushing Queens
February 14, 2011 / Flushing / Queens Buzz. First of all I would like to wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day. May your loved ones make you happy this day and every day.
We attended the Chinese New Year Parade in Flushing over the weekend and, as usual, it didn't disappoint. We understand that over 5,000 people participated in the parade, wearing fun, colorful, mythological costumes.
Click here to see the photos of the Chinese New Year Parade 2011 in a photo slide show of the event.
Flushing International High School
America's Melting Pot - Alive & Well In Flushing
January 3, 2011 / Flushing / QueensBuzz. I had occasion to witness the success that one of the public high schools in Queens is having in helping the children of new immigrants adapt to their new homeland. Flushing International High School only accepts children of immigrants who have generally been living in the country less than two years and who do not speak the English language very well, if at all.
Within four years, about 65% of these students graduate, speaking fluent English. The graduation rate throughout the rest of the city for comparable schools is 35%. We visited Joseph Luft [Principal] and Lara Evange [Assistant Principal] to take a closer look at what has contributed to their success.
Click here for the rest of the story, including photos, of a report on one of the public high schools in Queens.
Ethnic & Religious Culture in Flushing & Corona
The Flushing Remonstrance forerunner to the Constitution
Passover in Jackson Heights
Kehillat Tikvah Celebrates 5th Passover in Queens
April 1, 2013 / Jackson Heights / Judaism in Queens / Queens Buzz. On March 26th I attended the fifth annual Kehillat Tikvah Tuesday evening at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Jackson Heights. This Passover was hosted by Kehillat Tikvah, which is a relatively new community of hope, located in Jackson Heights. Rabbi Laurie Gold led the evening of festivities.
I arrived around 6 pm as the organizers were finishing up last minute details for the event. A U shaped table formation in the middle of the large room had been set, and there were containers of warm food laid out along a long table in front of the kitchen. People within the community were conversing, and without much effort I was drawn into a conversation with the folks sitting next to me.
Click here to read the rest of our report on the Kehillat Tikvah Passover in Jackson Heights later this month and click here for other Jackson Heights News briefs.
LGBT Parade In Jackson Heights
Report & Photos Of LGBT Parade 2011
June 5, 2011 / Jackson Heights / Ethnic Culture / Queens Buzz. I went to photograph the LGBT Parade in Jackson Heights Sunday morning. The parade started at noon along 37th Avenue around 88th Street. It was a beautiful day, with temperatures in the 70’s and a gentle breeze blowing through.
The streets were packed. There were easily thousands in attendance. And it was the one of the longest parades I’ve seen in Queens this year, lasting well in excess of an hour and a half.
Click here to view photos of the LGBT Parade in Jackson Heights and to read more about it.
How To Start A Cultural Movement
Where Art & Culture Meet Immigrant Movement
May 1, 2011 / Jackson Heights & Corona / Ethnic & Religious Culture / Queens Buzz. I was out covering one story when I caught wind of another. The other was the Immigrant Movement which is an art / social experiment going on this year in the Corona neighborhood of Queens.
I happened upon it in late April when I noticed a large crowd standing outside of the Immigrant Movement building in Corona Queens. The crowd had an artsy look - a look I have happened upon in Corona only occasionally ... so far.
It seems the Immigrant Movement is a three party collaboration, lead by performance artist / social activist Tania Bruguera of Cuba. The project is funded by the Queens Museum Of Art which periodically takes avante garde art initiatives, as well as by Creative Time which is a modern art organization in the metro NYC area. This creative approach to art and culture was provocative enough to capture my curiosity, so I stepped through the doorway to find out more.
Ethnic & Religious Culture in Jackson Heights & Elmhurst
Hispanic Day Parade Jackson Heights - September 2012
Colombian Parade Jackson Heights Queens - July 2012
LGBT Parade Jackson Heights Queens - June 2012
Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender - LGBT Parade in Jackson Heights
Kwanzaa Celebration In Jamaica Queens
January. The Afrikan Poetry Society sponsored a free viewing of the now famous Kwanzaa film entitled 'The Black Candle'. The film is a documentary about the origins of Kwanzaa in the U.S. and around the world. The film shows how African Americans began to reconstruct their culture following four centuries of enslavement and discrimination in this country. The celebration contains many universal guidelines to be used by groups, even nations, struggling to regain their lost freedoms and self-direction. There are lessons in this film for everyone.Click here to view our report on Kwanzaa in Jamaica Queens.
Irie Jamboree Reggae Rocks
Jamaica / September 7, 2009. The seventh annual Irie Jamboree rocked Queens this past Sunday. There were some twenty of the top reggae musicians from all over the country and Caribbean who came to play at this increasingly popular concert. Thousands of Queens residents flocked to the concert to enjoy a great day of warm sun, great music and delicious food. The concert was held on the York College Campus in the Jamaica section of Queens ['Jamaica' does seem like a fitting place for a reggae concert]. Spice is shown on the big screen at the Jam. Click here to view a full report and Irie Jamboree 2009 photos. Needless to say, a good time was had by all.
Ethnic & Religious Culture in Jamaica
Rosh Hashanah LIC Queens - September 2012
Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur
October 3, 2011 / Long Island City LIC / Queens Buzz. On Thursday night at sundown, September 29th, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year began. I visited a new Jewish community center in Long Island City comprised mainly, but not entirely, of orthodox Jewish families to learn more about the religious and cultural background of this occasion.
Zev Wineberg is the rabbi of the new community center. He and his wife have spent the past five years working to build a community in Long Island City. They held services in PS 78 along Center Blvd in Long Island City to celebrate the new year.
The photo to your left is of honey. Honey and apples are a traditional Jewish food this time of year as they signify the sweetness of the coming new year. We'll post more about this holy day sometime in the future.
New York Irish Center In LIC
Brings A Bit Of The Old Country To The New One
January 15, 2011 / Long Island City LIC / Queens Buzz. I went to hear Ashley Davis and Cormac De Barra perform at the NY Irish Center in Long Island City. It was my first visit to the center in a while, and the first time I’d attended a cultural event there.
Harpist Cormac De Barra hails from Ireland, while singer, songwriter and guitarist Ashley Davis hails from Kansas. I became fascinated with the Irish harp, as this was my first experience listening to a harpist outside of a major classical concert hall. The Irish harp has long been a symbol associated with Ireland, along with pixies, fairies and Irish tales. The photo to your left shows Cormac playing the Irish harp.
Click here to read more about the Ashley Davis & Cormac De Barra performance at the NY Irish Center in Long Island City, Queens. The report also includes information about the Irish harp, the NY Irish Center and its programs, and a slide show of Cormac playing the Irish harp along with story photos.
Societa Sant' Amato Di Nusco
Century Old Italian Community In Long Island City LIC Queens
November 7, 2010 / Long Island City / Queens Buzz. For some time now I’ve been wanting to do a story about the Societa Sant' Amato di Nusco in Long Island City. I’ve ventured into the clubhouse on more than one occasion, asking permission as I arrived, to do a story sometime in the future. I’ve always been treated respectfully, but never got the story. But as fate would have it, today was different.
While covering the NYC Marathon in Long Island City, I wandered into the Societa Sant' Amato di Nusco. There were people of all ages moving about the Societa’s clubhouse. As the Societa is a private club, everyone there knew that I wasn’t a member, so I was greeted by Frank Stagliano, Secretary of the Club, and Michael Bicchetti, the Maitre D’.
It took a few moments for it to register, but I had met them before and we soon picked up on our past conversations about the society, its origins and its mission today … and that is what this report is about: The Societa Sant' Amato di Nusco of Long Island City in Queens.
Ethnic & Religious Culture in LIC Long Island City
New Cultural Center in Sunnyside
Bliss on Bliss Studio Begins to Take Root
February 20, 2012 / Sunnyside / Art in Queens / Queens Buzz. I attended the February exhibit opening reception and musical performances of Bliss on Bliss Studio in Sunnyside. It was my first visit to the studio which opened in October of 2011.
Ged Merino and Carolina Morales are the husband and wife team that run the studio. They met while working at the Metropolitan Museum, married, and are now sharing their bliss with the rest of us who live near Blissville.
The moniker of Blissville predates Sunnyside, and comes from the name of an early 19th century farm owned by Neziah Bliss. The farm was located along the southern edge of the neighborhood. But I digress.
At the February opening reception for its new exihibit, Bliss on Bliss was featuring ten photographers and two groups of musicians. Click here to read more about Bliss on Bliss Studio in Sunnyside.
Sunnyside Christmas Tree Lighting 2011
T'is The Season To Be Jolly
November 28, 2011 / Sunnyside Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. It's hard to believe another year has gone by. On Tuesday, the Queens Chamber of Commerce held its annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Sabba Park on Queens Blvd and 50th Street, marking such an occasion.
It was a warm, wet night, with temperatures in the 60's. The rain came down lightly and intermittently, but just enough to ward off any sort of large gathering, like the one that had assembled last year.
Click here to view our report and photo slide show of the Sunnyside Christmas Tree Lighting of 2011.
St Pat's Parade 2011 Photos
Parade In Sunnyside, Woodside & Queens
March 7, 2011 / Sunnyside & Woodside / Queens Buzz. The St. Pat's For All Parade in Sunnyside marched up Skillman Avenue to Woodside in spite of a persistent rain and overcast skies. The event was headlined by the Mayor, the City Council Speaker, two city councilmen, a former police chief and a couple of guests from Ireland.
Of note was Christine Quinn's impassioned speech about eliminating discrimination. This speech was in response to a decision by the St. Patrick's Day Parade organizers in Staten Island to prohibit gays from marching in their parade. A similar decision was made about ten years ago by the Manhattan St. Patrick's Day parade organizers. The St. Pat's For All Parade in Sunnyside & Woodside does not prohibit gays from marching in its parade.
Given the inclement weather and shortened parade route [all parade routes have been shortened by 25% this year], there appeared to be far fewer parade watchers, but that didn't seem to dampen anyone's spirits [pun intended]. Shortly after the parade ended a great downpour came, telling us all that the parade was over. I guess our Irish guests brought along a bit of weather from the old country.
Click here to view a slide show of St Patrick's Day Parade photos 2011 in Sunnyside, Woodside & Queens.
St Sebastian's Catholic Grade School - Woodside
One Of The Leading Grade Schools In Queens
Woodside / June 14, 2010 / Queens Buzz. I just returned from a tour of St Sebastian’s grade school in the Woodside neighborhood of Queens. The school is one of about 55 Catholic grade schools in Queens. St Sebastian’s has an enrollment of between 400 and 450 students from nursery through the eighth grade. And the school’s student body scores highly compared with the nation on standardized education tests covering math, reading comprehension and writing.
In this report we provide a brief history of St Sebastian’s, an overview of it’s academic, athletic and other programs, and include related information pertaining to Catholic grade schools in the Queens area. Included in this report is information about St Sebastian’s tuition, enrollment fees and a summary time line of the enrollment application process [scroll down / scan the headlines to find the information you’re seeking].
Click this link to read the rest of the story and view the photos of St Sebastian's Catholic Grade School in Woodside.
Ethnic & Religious Culture In Sunnyside & Woodside
Holiday Tree Lighting Sunnyside - November 2012
Memorial Day Parade Woodside Queens - May 2012
St Pats Parade Sunnyside Queens - March 2012
Queens Parades - Flag Day Parade Sunnyside - June 2011
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